Lured by economic incentives worth nearly $9 million and the availably of prime office space made available by Cisco Systems, Network Appliance announced Tuesday that it was expanding its workforce in North Carolina.

The developer of storage technology said it initially would hire more than 300 people and has purchased three virtually complete but vacant buildings from Cisco Systems.

But the sale doesn’t mean Cisco has given up on growing its RTP workforce, either. It still has other buildings available should the networking firm choose to expand.

“Cisco is pleased to welcome our new neighbor, Network Appliance,” said Joe Freddoso of Cisco.

“These buildings were ones that Cisco had no near term plans to occupy. We are happy to work with the State of North Carolina, the Research Triangle Foundation and Network Appliance to get immediate job growth for the area from these buildings.”

Freddoso points out that growth is already underway.

“Cisco’s presence in RTP has grown by about 10% the last year to about 2’600 full time employees and about 3000 total site population, including contractors and vendors,” he tells Local Tech Wire. “With the sale of these three buildings to Network Appliance, Cisco has remaining capacity for about 6500 at its RTP site.”

Network Appliance and Cisco are partners in the storage space sector. The company already employs some 150 people at an office in Durham and is a so-called “ePartner” with North Carolina State University.

North Carolina lured the expansion with incentives through its Job Development Investment Grant program. The grants could be worth $8.9 million, based upon the number of jobs created.

Tom Mendoza, president of Net Appliance, and North Carolina Governor Mike Easley announced the deal after a meeting of the Economic Investment Committee responsible for awarding the grants voted to approve them.

“We are delighted that the Economic Investment Committee of North Carolina has chosen us for the JDIG grant,” said Mendoza at a press conference. “Our company has been in the RTP area since 1999, and this grant will enable us to continue to build and develop strong local ties with our business partners and customers and reap the benefits of a highly talented workforce in North Carolina.”

In addition to the jobs, Net Appliance will spend some $59 million in development.

How much the company paid Cisco for the 520,000 square feet of space was not disclosed. The three buildings require fitting out before the can be occupied. They have space for 2,000 workers.

Network Appliance is based in Sunnyvale, CA, and currently employs 2,800 people.

“As a result of targeted, performance-based initiatives such as JDIG, North Carolina is leading the nation in job growth,” Easley said in a statement. “Companies such as Network Appliance are choosing to locate and expand in North Carolina because our of business-friendly climate, low tax burden as well as our superior educational system and infrastructure.”

The company said it would begin hiring this fall. The average salary is projected to be $115,000 or more.

The N.C. Department of Commerce estimated the expansion would produce:

  • Generate a cumulative gross state product value of about $2.5 billion.

  • Produce a positive cumulative net state revenue impact of $99 million.

  • Contribute nearly $3 million to the state’s Industrial Development Fund for infrastructure improvements in rural North Carolina. That contribution will come from Net Appliance and is required for firms receiving state incentives.
  • Under the grant guidelines, if the company meets required performance targets and job growth, it will receive a grant equal to 65 percent of state personal income withholding taxes.

    The two-year-old program has produced some 6,000 jobs and $660 million in investment, according to the Governor’s office.

    Network Appliance: